By Alfredo Atanacio, co-founder UassistME.COM / Inc. 30 Under 30 2012 / AGLN Fellow.
Working in the customer service department involves several tasks that need to be performed exceptionally. These could include answering inbound calls, figuring out the answer to a client’s inquiry, processing payments, assisting returns and other probable services to cater to a client’s needs.
At the same time, while serving a client, staff must be able to provide this service in the best demeanor possible and express real, genuine concern toward them. Should a client become unsettled, the customer service representative should remain composed and calm to address concerns and issues.
Based on my company’s 12-year experience in customer service, these are the top five skills we find valuable in order to thrive in this position:
1. Excellent Communication Skills
The primary task of customer service representatives is to properly communicate with the company’s customers and clients should they have any inquiries and concerns about the product they bought or are planning to buy.
They must know how to engage the customers, including both talking and listening. They must also understand the inquiries and provide direct, clear answers to them in the most considerate manner.
They must be able to explain the policies and guidelines that come with the product purchase and express understanding toward a client while upholding the company’s approach and market strategies. Basically, a customer service representative serves as a bridge between a client and the company.
So, if a company desires increments from its existing customers, the best way to do so is to put excellent customer service staff on the front lines.
The scope of a customer service representative is not limited to processing calls alone; they must also make quick reports on the concerns presented by clients through tickets and feedback. Thus, they also need good written communication skills to capture customers’ problems in precise words.
They also need to provide feedback to their company supervisors or managers about issues they have handled within the period. Moreover, a good customer service staff needs to be persuasive in their manner of speaking and use positive words while addressing a client’s concern.
2. Empathy Skills
It may sound like a trait at first, but with most marketing transactions going digital nowadays, empathy is one of the highly sought-after skills by e-commerce companies. If they want their sales to increase, they need to hire empathetic staff for their customer service departments.
Even if clients become exasperated, sales representatives should still understand them, keep calm, keep their voice engaging and demonstrate appropriate manners on the phone.
According to one of the statistics presented by Zendesk in 2022, 81% of customers say that they are likely to make another purchase because of a positive customer service experience. Meanwhile, a report from Microsoft Dynamics 365 revealed that 95% of customer says that customer service is essential for them to be loyal to a particular brand.
Having empathy may be an innate attribute, but deliberately learning to be considerate and professional can eventually make it a part of your personality over time. If you want to stay at the edge of your career, improving your empathy skills can also help you develop patience, adaptability and self-control—traits that are also essential in customer service jobs.
3. Time Management Skills
Despite all the tasks customer service staff should handle on a daily basis, they must still be able to perform all these tasks in a swift and efficient manner. That is why time management is a very essential skill to have.
As a customer service crew, they need to know and understand the timeframes for every client and every call and use it to their advantage while catering to the concerns of customers.
An in-depth understanding of the company’s products and services can help staff save time by quickly diagnosing problems and providing exact answers. Savviness and knowledge about the technologies, applications and software can help them navigate resolutions easily and thus serve clients efficiently.
A time tracking tool may also be helpful to keep track of how long various activities take in the workplace, giving you insights on how to balance them and see if there is room for improvement.
Having good time management skills allows for time-appropriate breaks, ensuring good physical health and well-being. Besides, having good time management skills can help your staff perform their jobs more efficiently.
4. Ability To Perceive Clients
A good customer service representative knows how to understand clients but, at the same time, also knows how to perceive the person they are communicating with on the other end of the line. This skill may take a little knowledge of behavioral psychology, but understanding a client’s tone, choice of words, responses, mood and patience can give a secure base for creating a positive experience for most clients.
5. Willingness To Learn
Learning is one activity a person should never get tired of regardless of age or accomplishment. The same applies to working as a customer service representative. Of course, this includes both formal and informal education.
Customer service personnel should never despise seminars and learning but instead appreciate them, knowing that they can grow and improve through them.
Customer service staff have a great responsibility in the marketing and sales of your company’s products and services. Their role entails skills and attributes that they should not just possess but are excellent at demonstrating to customers and clients.